A dad has decided to create a group which allows men to feel more comfortable opening up about their feelings through a dog walking group, introducing Dudes & Dogs.
A dad from Bristol has set up a dog walking group which allows men to open up about their emotions in a safe, supportive environment.
Rob Osman has gone through periods in his life where he has not had anywhere to turn when suffering from anxiety and depression. So, to try and combat this he has set up Dudes & Dogs which allows men to find the space to talk about their feelings.
The dad-of-one has suffered from social anxiety from a young age, especially around girls – which even caused him to throw up from nerves. He found that his dog Mali, a Hungarian Vizla, was good for his mental health.
He is now hoping that this will help other men and is encouraging them to join him on their walks.
The 38-year-old said: “The aim of the group is to create an environment where people can relax and drop their barriers.
“It [walking a dog] is a good way to do so because you do not have to look at each other in the eye and are in an open space.
“It is at their pace and there is no expectation for them to have to talk – it could be that they just listen the first few times.”
Instead of saying “let’s go for a chat”, Rob found that saying “let’s go for a walk” was a lot less difficult and made men feel a lot more comfortable.
Through interacting with the dogs, the dog owner claims that participants felt that they had moments of utter joy and relief.
So far, the group walks have only been held in Bristol but as numbers are dramatically increasing, the dad is hoping more people will facilitate for this need and become “dude dogs”. He wants to expand to areas such as South Wales.
Rob says that everyone is welcome to join and it isn’t required that you bring a dog.
He said: “The dog dude will facilitate the walk and will have a dog with them.”
He says what is important is that the men who come along know that they are not alone with dealing with difficult feelings and that’s it’s normal to feel the conflict within. He says he would love it to become a similar movement to Movember.
Rob, of Ashton Vale, has even quit his job as a business development manager to become a stay-at-home dad and focus on this mission – he knew that he wanted to focus on something related to counselling.
Before starting the group, he looked for something similar such as a local support group but was shocked to realise that none offered the specific type of support that he wanted.
Dudes & Dogs then came to life through a video that he shared on International Men’s Day on Facebook.
Since then, Rob has kept up with his Facebook page for Dudes & Dogs and has shared several videos where he talks about his emotions, how he has been struggling or how his day has gone. Most importantly, he would focus on how vital it is you talk about how you’re feeling.
He has even filmed some of the videos when out and about, such as at the local barbers.
He has stated: “I am quite an emotional guy and since I have opened about my feelings and emotions my life has got better.
“I started to realise what really helps me is walking my dog and spending time in the fresh air.
“Mali is a four-legged antidepressant.
“She makes me go outside and go into the woods to play.
“She makes me change my mood and I could not have asked for a better companion.
“She is key to the whole thing.”
The group meets every Saturday at 10:15 am by the Yer Tiz trail entrance of Leigh Woods. The walks are free to join.
Of course, there may be circumstances in which the timings change so check out the Facebook page here to keep updated.
Do you have a story for us? If so, email us at [email protected] All contact will be treated in confidence.